It is comforting to know the Disney company is removing gender references from everything from corporate training to program scripts. For example, rather than begin a program with “Welcome ladies and gentlemen” you will now hear “Welcome friends.”

That’s a relief. We will no longer be accosted by disgusting references to men and women when the curtain comes up or the parade starts down the road. Frankly, it is hard to imagine how American society has withstood the horror of men and women being welcomed in this way to public events over the past few centuries.

Seriously? There is a ground war in Europe that could morph into a nuclear conflict, we are still dealing with almost a million pandemic-related deaths, and inflation is forcing working-class families to make hard choices about providing basic needs. Yet, someone thinks eliminating gender references in entertainment venues is a serious enough problem to prompt protests, threaten economic reprisals, and demand politicians reshape public policy? Even if gender redefinition is your life mission, is eliminating the phrase “ladies and gentlemen” really the battle you want to win? Apparently so.

This is just one example of a common problem in our culture—including in churches, denominations, and yes, a seminary like ours. The common problem is skewed perspective. We fixate on addressing an issue, solving a problem, correcting a person, or otherwise exhausting ourselves on one thing or another that just doesn’t matter that much. We lose perspective on what really matters. We focus on peripheral concerns rather than the core drivers for accomplishing our mission. We burn up intellectual resources, emotional energy, and relational capital on lesser issues—and then wonder why we don’t have the focus and capacity to make a real difference.

You can’t fulfill your mission with leftover time, energy, or effort. You can’t squander time on trivial pursuits and expect grand dreams to be fulfilled. It just won’t happen. So, before you join the next crusade, send out the next tweet, or commit to the next cause—ask yourself this salient question, “Does this really matter to what really matters?”

People who make a difference don’t dissipate their lives with trifles. They narrowly focus on making a real difference, not piddling efforts on cosmetic changes. While none of us do this perfectly, all of us can do it better. Discipline yourself today to thoughts, activities, projects, and people that fulfill your role in advancing God’s mission. Choose to spend time, money, and most importantly, your emotional and intellectual energy on what moves the needle on what really matters to God (and hopefully to you).

In short, turn off the noise and turn up the mission!


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